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Women in STEM - Mae Nishioka



Mae Nakatani Nishioka was the first woman to graduate with an Engineering degree from the University of Hawai‘i, in 1950. The only woman in her classes, Mae was told that “home economics was in the next classroom over” on her very first day. She graduated four years later and soon became the first female professional engineer to be licensed in the state of Hawaii.


She began her career in the Territory of Hawaii’s Highway Planning Office, where she would work on the H-1 Freeway, the state’s first major freeway. Paving roads both literally and figuratively, Mae encouraged many young women after her to pursue degrees in Engineering.


Mae gave back through mentoring as an active member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) for over 60 years. She was one of the original founding members of the SWE Hawaiian Islands and was highly recognized for her contributions.


Unfortunately, Mae passed away 2 days before she was able to accept her Lifetime Achievement award from the Hawaii Society of Engineers. Her daughter accepted on her behalf.


Watch a brief reflection on her career from her “Celebration of Life” video, made by her family for her memorial:



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